Education
AL ranked third for most higher education cuts since 2008 recession

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) – Over the last decade only two states have cut their state funding for higher education, per student, more than Alabama.

This is according to a report released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Between 2008 and 2018, Alabama has cut $4,290 per student for higher education. Here is how Alabama compares to other states.

“When the economy went down, the priority for funding higher education certainly shifted, and we’ve not had the kind of success that we know we need to have,” said Gordon Stone, the executive director of the Higher Education Partnership.

Carol Gundlach, the policy analyst for the group Alabama Arise, the cuts have led to increased tuition costs and discourage people from going to college. Arise said the average tuition at a public four-year institution in Alabama rose by $4,329 between 2008 and 2018.

“It may be the barrier that keeps them from getting the education that they need in the first place,”Gundlach said.

She said when people are not attending college, it hurts the state as a whole.

“We’ll be running the future a huge deficit in the number of people skilled in the trades and for people not to be able to go to school, to get the training they need, to fill those high-tech jobs that we want in the state, it doesn’t do anybody any good,” Gundlach said.

Stone said many higher paying jobs require a higher education degree.

“Higher paying jobs can be recruited to Alabama more effectively when you have a workforce that has the characteristics that those jobs are identifying as a priority,” said Stone.

However, the amount of money in the Education Trust Fund has increased over the last few years.

Fiscal Year Education Budget:

  • FY 2014- $5.76 billion
  • FY 2015- $5.93 billion
  • FY 2016- $5.99 billion
  • FY 2017- $6.33 billion
  • FY 2018- $6.42 billion
  • FY 2019- $6.63 billion

Revenue for the Education Trust Fund is dependent on the economy. If the economy is doing well, then the fund does well. However, lawmakers passed the Education Trust Fund Rolling Reserves Act in 2011. It created a cap on how much money from the trust fund can immediately be used. The Act stopped the legislature from prorating money in the middle of the fiscal year.

Gundlach suggested lawmakers can tinker with the formula that determines the cap to try and provide more money for higher education to use immediately.

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